While I was very excited about trying “typical Dominican food”, the truth is that it left me a little disappointed. Fortunately, I booked a hotel with a kitchen in Las Terrenas; a small fishing village turned low-key beach destination. I bought the fish right on the beach where the fishing boats haul up, and cooked up an amazing blackened red snapper. An entire snapper cost me just $5.50. An amazing 5-stars dinner.
I adapted Chris Kimball’s 2007 recipe for Blacked Snapper on the grill, and used the traditional stove-top cooking method. While I didn’t have a cast iron skillet for this recipe, I used the heaviest pan that I had available and it turned out fantastic. By far my best meal in Dominican Republic.
My final destination in Dominican Republic is Bayahibe, a small town bordering the National Park Del Este. Bayahibe is the best place to catch a boat to the island of Saona (part of the national park with amazing beaches), but to snorkel it’s better to drive the 10km into La Romana and catch a daily boat to Catalina Island. Bayahibe has me breaking my self-imposed rule to avoid “all-inclusive” resorts. Normally, I vastly preferring to stay in small hotels where I am “Mr. Mark”, and not “Room 1428”. Also I prefer to look for my own restaurants with individually cooked meals rather than mass-cooked, catering-style meals that are specifically formulated to appeal to non-adventurous palates. But the independent hotels here all looked a bit shabby, and it’s only for a few days.
How much work? Medium
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 5:00 PM. Dinner time 6:00 PM.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here, and the descriptions of how I prepared the fish today is as follows:
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 red snapper fillets, 3/4″ thick
- Mix together paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, salt, and peppers in a small bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10″ to 12″ non-stick skillet over medium burner. When the foam begins to subside, bloom the spice mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently until the spices become dark rust in color. Allow the mixture to cool on a pie plate for about 10 minutes. Break up any large clumps of spices using a fork.
- Use paper towels to pat the fish dry on both sides, and make shallow diagonal slashes on the skin side of fish with a sharp knife every 1″; but be careful not to cut into the flesh of the fish. The slashes will prevent the fish from curling during cooking.
- Working with the fish on a large plate or rimmed baking sheet, rub spice mixture with your fingers in thin layer on both sides of the fish. Put fish in refrigerator until ready to cook.
- Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a heavy skillet, and pre-heat until very hot, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add fish filets, meat-side down and cook until very dark brown and skin is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip fish and continue to cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until the second side becomes dark brown. The fish should begin to flake, and center is opaque but still moist, about 5 minutes longer.
- Serve immediately.